Justin Lovell, Sports Editor
A few weeks ago, the sports world came to a halt following the Boston Marathon bombings. The initial bombing was devastating and ensuing efforts to bring the people responsible to justice was successful, but this attack stands as a reminder of what is really important in life. The attack is not the first, but merely the most recent event in which sports take a backseat to what is happening around the world.
One such example was the September 11 attacks. Even 12 years later, these attacks remain one of, if not the most, important in America’s history. The far-reaching effects that the attacks had, still stand today and are sure to come up again following the event in Boston last month. In terms of how it affected sports though, the September 11 attacks had the biggest impact on an event since World War II.
The NFL, in the wake of the attacks, postponed and even considered canceling the games the following week after the attacks. Since that was the case, the season was pushed back a week later than normal and Super Bowl 36 became the first to be played in February. MLB postponed all games that week as well, which pushed back the playoffs and the World Series to end in November. The final three games of the series were played during that month and became the first non-exhibition MLB games to ever be played during that time. As devastating as the September 11 attacks were, they didn’t directly affect sport events like the attacks at the 1996 and 1972 Olympic games.
The 1996 Olympics was supposed to be one of America’s shining moments, as Atlanta, Georgia was selected as the host of the summer spectacle. However, a terrorist bombing that left two dead and over 100 injured marred the legacy of the games. Midway through the games, on July 27, a bomb was detonated at Centennial Olympic Park. The bomber, Eric Robert Rudolph, was eventually caught in 2003 but the damage had been done. Though the USA used the bombing as a rallying effort and was able to win the most medals at the games, the Olympic committee has not seriously considered returning the summer games to American soil. I assume one day the games will again return to our country but until then, the 1996 games and events that transpired in Atlanta remain one of the most important sports tragedies.
As tragic as the other two events were, I don’t think there is a more tragic sports event other than the 1972 Olympics. Again during the summer spectacle, the 1972 games, which were held in Munich, West Germany, had to deal with terror, except this time it involved athletes. 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were captured and held hostage by a Palestinian group known as Black September. The group demanded that Israel release Palestinian prisoners, otherwise the hostages would be killed. Following a failed rescue attempt by the German authorities, all 11 hostages were killed, in addition to five members of Black September and one police officer, for 17 in total.
Following the event, the Olympic games were postponed a few days and the victims were all honored, but the 1972 games are remembered best for one thing; the Munich Massacre. The tragedy transcended sports and is remembered as one of the most horrific terrorist attacks of all time.
In light of all these events and the recent Boston Marathon attack, it is important to keep everything in perspective. Yes, sports are a great thing, but the most important things in life are bigger than a game and it’s unfortunate that it takes a tragedy to make us realize that.